Developmental education assessment and placement policies guide how students may demonstrate college readiness and are placed into college-level courses. States and postsecondary systems use a variety of measures to determine a student’s college readiness. Often, policies require that students submit scores from a national, standardized test. Some states and postsecondary systems allow students to submit additional evidence of their college readiness to supplement — or in lieu of — an assessment score. Assessment scores and other measures of college readiness determine whether a student is placed into college-level coursework or developmental education.

To provide a national perspective on developmental education assessment and placement policies, Education Commission of the States researched state-level and postsecondary system policies to create this comprehensive resource. Click on the questions below for a 50-State Comparison, showing how states and postsecondary systems approach these policies. Or view a specific state’s approach by going to the individual state profile.

50-State Comparisons

  1. Is there a state or systemwide developmental education assessment and placement policy?
  2. Are approved assessment instruments identified? If so, which assessments are used or allowed? Are uniform cut scores identified? If so, what are the cut scores for these common assessments?
  3. Are multiple measures allowed to determine placement? If so, which measures are used or allowed?
  4. Are instructional methods addressed? If so, which methods are used or allowed?
  5. Does state statute include reporting requirements?

A state received a “yes” if its state or system policies address developmental education assessment and placement requirements. Depending on the unique higher education governance structure in each state, a state may have several policies included in this resource. System-level initiatives, programs and collaborations are excluded from this review.

Key Takeaways

  • Thirty-one states have a state or systemwide assessment and placement policy.
  • Twenty-two states have a uniform state or systemwide cut score policy.
  • Nineteen states or systems allow for the use of multiple measures in placement decisions.
  • Twenty-one states or systems have authorized the use of innovative developmental education instructional methods and interventions.
  • Twenty states have created statutory developmental education reporting requirements.

Key Terms Used in this Resource

Developmental Education: Sometimes referred to as remedial education, developmental education aims to teach students knowledge they should have learned before enrolling in a postsecondary program. Developmental education is not adult basic education.

Cut Score: The cut scores presented in this resource are the lowest scores a student can receive on an assessment to be considered college-ready. Cut scores are often differentiated by subject area, generally English and math. Scores below the cut score indicate a need for developmental education in the subject area.

Multiple Measures: Additional evidence a student may present, beyond an assessment score, that can indicate college readiness. In this resource, the following categories are used:

  • Other standardized and normed exams, or locally developed exams.
  • High school academic performance (GPA, transcript, coursework).
  • College academic performance (credit from a prior learning assessment, GPA, transcript, coursework).
  • Noncognitive factors (motivation, attitude, emotions).
  • Work experience.

Reporting Requirements: This resource reviews reporting requirements determined by state statute. In this resource, the following categories are used:

  • Student populations (recent high school graduates, total number or percentage of students enrolled in developmental courses).
  • Student characteristics (demographics, developmental education needs, college readiness, high school GPA).
  • Student success (pass rates, graduation rates, successful completion of gateway courses).
  • High school feedback data.
  • Cost of developmental education.

Related Resources

 PUBLISHED: December 10, 2018




 STATE(S): Nationwide

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